The Good Hero

Firefighters in front of truck


by Raymond M. Coulombe

Recently I was sitting in on a writers’ panel. One of the participants mentioned something about heroes that caught my attention. Apparently writers are being told to have heroes with more faults than positives.

There’s a long tradition of the flawed hero. I don’t have a problem with that. From a writer’s standpoint, it makes story telling a lot easier. No need to find too many outside obstacles when the main characters have plenty of self destructive tendencies. Everyone has flaws and failings so such characters resonate.

My beef is that the truly competent hero has almost disappeared from modern literature. In my opinion, that’s a major loss. I like heroes who are heroic: people you can look up to and aspire to be like. What’s so bad about having characters with strong inner principles? I always liked characters with multiple skills, deep knowledge and inner strengths. If you have such heroes, the trick is to give them challenges worthy of their vast talents and abilities.

One complaint is that such people are hard to relate to. That’s not necessarily the case. Everyone has basic human emotions and a desire for a good life. Good heroes still feel and have needs like everyone else. They still have struggles.

My main complaint is that I know many people in real life who possess more positives than negatives. They’ve spent years working on becoming better people and are doing a pretty darn good job of it. They are the sort of people I want at my side when times get desperate. Something inspired them to become the amazing people they are. That’s why I think we should bring back the good hero. We need them now more than ever.

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